Winning design will support UK’s migratory fish stocks

You are in: Media CentreNews 2012

Team Van Oord partner Royal HaskoningDHV has won a competition designed to support migratory fish in estuaries around the UK.

Organised by the Living North Sea project, the Sturgeon’s Lair competition encourages innovation in designs to support the passage of fish in the North Sea. The best five proposals were presented to a panel of expert judges at the Living North Sea project conference (14-15 November) and the first prize was awarded to Royal HaskoningDHV and the specialist fisheries consultancy, Fishtek.

Once renowned for its rich fish population, the North Sea (in particular) now suffers from intensive fishing, with many rivers connected to the North Sea blocked by man-made barriers.

Fish species such as sea trout, salmon and eel need both fresh and salt water to complete their lifecycle, or risk extinction. This is already happening in some areas and new measures are needed urgently to aid fish migration.

The winning design, the Tidal Gate Damper, submitted by Royal HaskoningDHV, Fishtek, Natural England, and the Environment Agency, allows elvers and other small migratory fish to pass through control structures.

The €10,000 prize money will go towards designing and building the winning concept and contributing to further innovations and solutions for barriers to fish migration.

Howard Rushton, senior engineer for Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “Modern tide gates are designed to seal early and effectively when water levels upstream and downstream of the tide gate equalise. The period around level equalisation is the only time that elver ingress is possible and it only lasts for a few minutes each tide cycle, significantly reducing potential fish passage. Our Tide Gate Damper design delays the closing of tide gates to increase the window for fish and eel passage.”

The innovative concept is low cost and very flexible, so can be installed at a range of tidal sites. Originally developed to encourage elver migration, the concept will also help a range of other juvenile marine species such as mullet, bass and flounder, or could be used in tandem to create bigger gaps for larger migratory fish like salmon.

The Sturgeon’s Lair competition is funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme, which aims to reconnect rivers and deltas and achieve ‘free fish migration from sea to source’.

Click here to read the full Royal HaskoningDHV news release.

18 December 2012